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ESB, Vodafone to invest E450m in fibre

Wednesday, July 02 12:23:45

The ESB and Vodafone today signed an agreement to invest E450m in building a 100pc fibre-to-the-building broadband network.

They said thay will be able to offer speeds from 200 Mbps to 1000 Mbps, propelling Ireland into the ranks of the world's fastest broadband countries.

Ireland will also become the first country in Europe to use existing electricity infrastructure on a nationwide basis to deploy fibre directly into homes and businesses, initially reaching 500,000 premises in 50 towns.

The fibre will be deployed on ESB's existing overhead and underground infrastructure, ensuring a fast and cost efficient roll-out to every county in Ireland and reversing the digital divide between the capital and regional towns.

With recent data from ComReg showing that 43pc of fixed broadband customers in Ireland receive speeds of less than 10 Mbps, direct access to 100pc fibre broadband of up to one gigabit per second will transform the internet experience of small and medium businesses (SME), remote workers and consumers, the partners said.

"This will help regional areas to compete more effectively for investment and jobs, and SMEs to work more efficiently, enhance their online presence and reach new markets and customers. Consumers will enjoy innovations ranging from home entertainment to e-health and virtual education. Home working will also become a real option for more people, helping Ireland to develop its smart economy. With global internet traffic set to triple in the next five years, the speed and reliability delivered by 100pc fibre broadband will ensure Irish customers can lead the digital lives they want."

Subject to European Commission approval, the 50:50 joint venture will begin rolling-out the new network across Ireland in the coming months, with the first customers able to avail of 100pc fibre broadband from the start of 2015. The initial phase of the project is expected to be fully rolled-out by the end of 2018, with scope for a second phase under the joint venture.

While the ESB and Vodafone joint venture will build and manage the network, open access will be offered to all telecoms operators in Ireland on a wholesale basis. This means that other operators can resell the fibre product to their customers, helping to stimulate the development of new services and boosting retail competition in the broadband market for all Irish consumers and businesses.